by Stuart Title
A January 11th, 2019 article in the Odenton Patch referred to an earlier survey the Odenton Patch conducted of Odenton residents and what kinds of food and retail users they would like to see. The list is a Who’s Who of mostly national chains and who wouldn’t want the convenience of one in their own backyard. As a commercial Broker in the area for 35 years I can tell you no less than half of the “wish list” retailers have looked in this area and are already here or nearby. Every one of them has their own criteria for locations and the reality is that just wanting them isn’t enough – it is market driven. They have certain criteria and site requirements such as: which side of the road, size of the parcel, cost of the property and development costs, traffic signal; specific income level; a certain amount of road front and foot traffic; certain competition and they have certain distance requirements from other nearby locations which vary. With that said, I also agree that many on the list should take another look and be in Odenton. But we do have more options than in the past and others are pretty close by (according to their definition). We have a nice Giant, and Wegmans is within 5 miles; think about how many communities would like to have our Ruth’s Chris. We have some good local options that should be supported like The Hideaway, Pachanga Grill, The Great American Steak House, Hunan La’ Rose, Romeo’s, Mamma Roma and others. Traders Joe’s would be great but the existing centers that might be of interest have existing food stores with clauses that wouldn’t allow them as a tenant.
There is the reality that Laurel, Arundel Mills, and Crofton are also our/their market within 5 miles and surrounding us. Unfortunately, that close proximity leaves us out more often than not as these other markets tend to get first look due to the density of other retail already there. We at A. J. Properties will continue to meet with these retail and food uses whose criteria, I believe, can be met here and encourage them to take another look at our sometimes overlooked community. However, remember with convenience comes unintended consequences such as traffic. If we had the density of traffic that is currently generated by retail in Laurel, Arundel Mills or Crofton and add that to the residential growth and Fort Meade/NSA traffic, this area would not be the bedroom community it has become…again! Odenton was a bedroom community built around the Fort and the Nevamar Plant up until the 1970s. This holds true today. But with the Plant gone, we now have Cyber Command whose employment dwarfs that of the Nevamar Plant. We will continue to see food and retail growth that is market driven and community oriented. However, some things will remain just 5 miles away along with their unintended consequences.